EXTRA BAGGS: Huff hustles too little, Crawford too much


EXTRA BAGGS: Huff hustles too little, Crawford too much


MIAMI Imagine what a story it wouldve made.

The Giants ushered Miami Marlins closer Heath Bell from thegame in the ninth inning Friday night, they advanced the tying run to third base and MelkyCabrera, the major league leader in hits, was coming to the plate.

The Marlins infield met on the mound. Clearly, they were going topitch carefully to the NLs hottest hitter.

And the man on deck? None other than Buster Posey, facingthe Marlins one year to the day that Scott Cousins took him out.

You could envision Posey, his jaw locked, sending a ballover the fence and rounding the bases, expressionless as a contract killer. Itwouldve been one heck of a story. And it might have helped the Giants fret alittle less over Tim Lincecums troubles for a night.

But Posey did not get past the on-deck circle. Marlinsright-hander Steve Cishek stole a first-pitch strike against Cabrera, he ranthe count full, and then he dropped down to throw a gutsy slider that triggeredthe fist of plate umpire Mike Winters.

The Giants lost 7-6, and one-run defeats are like rabbitholes for managers. There are so many moments in the game to tumble around in your head, somany mistakes or missed opportunities that became turning points.

We were awful tonight, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.Errors and baserunning came back to haunt us, as they should. Those thingsshouldnt happen on the field.

During his session, Bochy wasnt specific about the baserunning issues. I onlycounted two possibilities: In the second inning, when Aubrey Huff trotted outof the box and coasted into first base on his near-homer-turned single; and inthe third, when Brandon Crawford got thrown out trying to go from first tothird on Angel Pagans two-out hit.

Not wanting to make assumptions, I circled back to ask. Bochy said yes, he was referring to those two plays.

Huff said he just lost track of what happened, Bochy said.He didnt see where the ball went.

And because Joaquin Arias followed with a double-playgrounder, Huffs failure to get to second base proved damaging. Sure,Pagan had to hold up between first and second to see if the ball would becaught. But Pagan had gone more than halfway. There was no reason Huff couldnt havebeen right behind him. If the balls caught, hes out anyway. (Paganstill made it to third base, by the way.)

Managers often say they dont have a problem with playerswho make aggressive mistakes. But Bochy seemed to be more bothered byCrawfords attempt to take third. Both Tim Flannery and Roberto Kelly tookCrawford aside after the game, telling him he cant get thrown out at thirdbase with two outs. He already was in scoring position, they said, and its notlike he can come home on a two-out sacrifice fly.

We cant make those kinds of mistakes, Bochy said.

Its important to play smart. But its even more importantto play hard, isnt it?

Pablo Sandoval is coming along in his rehab from left handsurgery. He began swinging a fungo bat right-handed on Friday, but Bochy saidthe third baseman is still two weeks away from returning.

Hes getting better, Bochy said. Were probably lookingat a couple weeks if there is no setbacks, which is good news for us.

Sandoval had been the teams No. 3 hitter, but Bochy said heplans to keep Melky Cabrera in that spot. No wonder. Cabrera homered andtripled, adding to his MLB-best 69 hits. He has 42 of them in May with fivegames to play and hes nine short of the San Francisco-era record for hits in amonth, which Randy Winn established with a 51-hit performance in September, 2005.

Bochy said he might put Sandoval in the No. 5 spot and moveAngel Pagan up to second, even though Pagan also has taken well to that placein the order. Sandoval wont bat sixth or lower, Bochy said.

Hes too good a hitter, the manager said.

Heres one other variable that will affect what the Giantsdo: Crawfords performance in the No. 2 slot. Hes definitely getting betterpitches and having better at-bats since Bochy tried him in that slot. But itshard to imagine the Giants keeping him there when they have a betteralternative.

Oh, and in case its not obvious the fact Bochy is talkingabout moving Pagan to the No. 2 slot should make it very apparent that GregorBlanco has become the everyday leadoff man and outfielder for this team.

Report: Two Giants hitters elect free agency


Report: Two Giants hitters elect free agency

With free agency set to begin five days after the World Series ends, two hitters that played for the Giants during the 2017 season have put their names on the open market.

Veteran third baseman Conor Gillaspie and longtime minor league outfielder Carlos Moncrief have both elected for free agency, according to Baseball America.

The 30-year-old Gillaspie appeared in 44 games for the Giants this past season. He hit just .168/.218/.288 with four doubles, two home runs and eight RBI. He was designated for assignment on August 3 and outrighted to Triple-A Sacramento on August 5. With the River Cats, Gillaspie hit .375 with four doubles in 15 games in August.

Prior to the 2017 season, Gillaspie signed a one-year, $1.4 million deal with the Giants.

As for Moncrief, the soon-to-be 29-year-old finally got his first call-up the majors this past season after eight and a half seasons in the minors. He debuted for the Giants on July 29. In 28 games, he hit .211/.256/.237 with one double and five RBI. While he didn't do much with the bat, Moncrief showed off a cannon for an arm when he patrolled right field.

Giants reassign pitching coach Dave Righetti, two other coaches


Giants reassign pitching coach Dave Righetti, two other coaches

SAN FRANCISCO — Late in a 98-loss season, general manager Bobby Evans met with members of the coaching staff to discuss new roles. The shakeup of the staff ended up being a stunning one. 

Pitching coach Dave Righetti was one of three coaches to be reassigned Saturday morning. After 18 seasons as pitching coach, Righetti will now serve as special assistant to the general manager. Bullpen coach Mark Gardner was given a “special assignment role to assist in pitching evaluations.” Assistant hitting coach Steve Decker will be a special assistant for baseball operations. 

The moves cap a 13-month run in which the coaching staff has taken much of the blame for a $200 million roster that was poorly constructed in places and played embarrassing baseball for long stretches of the 2016 and 2017 seasons. Third base coach Roberto Kelly was let go after the 2016 season and first base coach Billy Hayes was reassigned. More changes appear on the way. 

“It does raise the level of attention to change when you struggle as much as we have, but you’re always contemplating making changes to try to help keep pushing your guys and make sure you continue to have different perspectives and new voices and reflections on how to get the most out of them,” Evans said on a conference call. 

Throughout September, multiple coaches expressed concern about their future roles, but the Giants held off several weeks before announcing changes. At least two members of the staff were involved in managerial searches elsewhere, and third base coach Phil Nevin is reportedly still a candidate for the open job in Philadelphia. 

Evans confirmed that he has interviewed outside candidates for a hitting coach role, but he would not go so far as to say Hensley Meulens will be reassigned as well. He also would not speak to the future of Ron Wotus, although the longtime bench coach is expected to be mixed up in future changes as well. Evans indicated he would announce further moves after all the open managerial vacancies are filled.

For now, the Giants are in the process of trying to find a new pitching coach. They are focused on experienced outside candidates, and they have plenty of options, as several other teams have made changes this month. Evans hinted that he wants the next pitching coach to have a more analytical approach. 

Righetti's replacement will have massive shoes to fill. His run was the longest for a pitching coach in franchise history. The Giants, usually so reliant on pitching, finished 16th in the Majors with a 4.50 ERA, but it’s hard to see how Righetti takes the blame for that. Madison Bumgarner missed a chunk of the season after a dirt bike accident, Johnny Cueto had a brutal injury-plagued year, Matt Moore battled himself and had the worst ERA in the National League, and the bullpen struggled, with closer Mark Melancon pitching through an injury that required season-ending surgery. 

Righetti was credited with helping to develop a rotation and bullpen that won three titles, and the bond he shared with pitchers was on display during the final weekend of the year, when Matt Cain talked repeatedly about their close relationship and went straight for Righetti after he came off the field for the final time. While it’s often hard to figure out where to give credit, even in a down year for the staff, Righetti played a role in Sam Dyson’s resurgence, and he helped Ty Blach and Chris Stratton break in as big league regulars. 

“Ultimately a change for us in the clubhouse is really an opportunity just to put a new voice with our pitching staff and try to keep pushing to the heights that we aspire as an organization and a club,” Evans said. “Changes sometimes are needed as much for the sake of that new voice as anything, and I think that was really the priority here.”

Righetti will help Evans in a front office role. Evans admitted that Righetti’s “heartbeat is in uniform as a coach,” but said he was willing to take on a new role for an organization he loves. 

Gardner, a former Giants pitcher, had been on staff since 2003. He will now help to evaluate pitchers inside and outside the organization, and Evans said Gardner could serve an important role in evaluating trade options. Decker joined the big league staff in 2015 after a long run working in the minor leagues. The 2017 season was his 23rd with the organization. He will have a “blank canvas,” Evans said, working in different roles inside the organization. Decker will also help with draft preparation.